Charlotte

Restaurant Review: Cajun Queen

So Cajun Queen.  Girls Nosh was so excited to visit.  Ah well.

As most foodies know, a large part of the dining experience is the service.  If the food is magnificent, you can get away with slightly lesser service, but Cajun Queen wasn’t tasty enough (but it was good!) to counter the experience of bad service.

The free valet is a nice touch, because parking is a beast around there.  The hostess was busy but seated us kindly.  Then the waiter showed up.  He seemed put out with us, but as the night progressed, it became clear that he might have been irritated with a loud party behind us, because he became slightly less aggravated when they left.  The second bummer of the night was where we were sitting seemed to be a hugely traveled path for people coming and going all night long.  I was bumped every few seconds all night long.  Tiresome.  Though this did help:

The food.  The food was good.  Some of us had yummier food than others, but we all agreed it was just fine.

This Seafood Gumbo should have been blowing my doors off with flavor, but instead it was just okay.  I was a little disappointed with the mildness of it.  Needed something.

I had the Crawfish Etouffee and it was really too similar to the gumbo.  I should have made a better choice.  But, it had the same problems as the Gumbo, being too bland.  I guess I just expected more.

cajun queen chicken diane

This is Chicken Diane.  It’s a sautéed breast of chicken with mushrooms, green onions, Cajun spices, garlic, butter and parsley.  All served over rice.  Though it was pretty rich, it was a solid dish.

Dessert was again, fine.  There really weren’t that many choices, so I chose pecan pie.  It was fine, presentation was pretty lame.  I know, what can you do with a slice of pie.  But 3 or 4 puffs of whip cream from a can has to be one of the least fancy ways to dress it.

We may try it again, perhaps we were there on an off night?  I do like to give a few chances before writing a place off, but this night was not a good showing for this landmark Charlotte restaurant.

 

 

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Huntersville

Kung Foo Noodle in Birkdale Village

My kids wear me out on Asian food.  I love it, but not EVERY.SINGLE.TIME we get to go out to eat.  But, knowing this, I use this to get them to go on errands with me that they’d rather not do.  Give and take.

This place I didn’t mind going.  It’s new to us, it’s in Birkdale Village..and turns out it is awfully good.  Everything we had was delicious and you can bring your dogs with you and sit on the patio.  It was a perfect night for it, too.

We started with Dumplings.  The waitress advised us to get the pan-fried ones because the steamed dumplings got cold and gummy.  She was right.  Those little pork filled nuggets were warm, just crispy and perfect when dipped in the sauce.  That was a favorite.

We also tried the Spicy Wontons.  I thought wontons were like those above, but here they were steamed and very pliant.  Even though it wasn’t what we thought, these soft pillows filled with pork and shrimp were incredible and we all agreed (even our seafood hater!) that we’d get them again.

For my dinner, I had the Tom Yum Noodle Bowl.  It was so spicy and delicious!  Sour broth chock full of homemade noodles, shrimps, bok choy and flavored with lemongrass.  If I ever get sick, someone better bring me this soupy goodness.  It’s miracle healing level good.

Ty got his standard…ahem… Thai/Ty dish: Pad Thai!  He said it was sweet and delicious, with peanuts, chicken and chewy noodles.  It came with 2 limes to counter balance the sweetness of the sauce with a little added acid.  Perfect!

Mary Ashley got her standard: Sushi.  She had two rolls.  The first was called Bubba Shrimp roll.  It was tempura friend shrimp in the middle, with ebi shrimp on top, covered with shrimp sauce.  It was her favorite. She wouldn’t let me try it.  Her second roll was a Volcano roll, which was a friend roll with crab and crab salad. She did let me try that, and it was really really good.  Especially with the cream cheese inside.  Loved!

For dessert we got Bubble Tea!  The tea part was delicious, but I’m on the fence about those bubbles.  They are gelatinous masses (Tapioca pearls, I’ve heard) that are barely flavored and just make your drink chewy.  I don’t get it.  Anyway, we got Thai tea flavored and Mary Ashley got Taro.  Hers was the best…it tasted like a sugar cookie.

The service here was also impeccable.  The place is smallish on the inside, but it was not overflowing with folks when we got there.  Lots of windows and high ceilings do a lot for not feeling crowded.  We’ve found a new favorite spot.

 

Charlotte

5 Reasons you need to go to Church: Charlotte’s 5 Church

 

I’ve had my eye of 5 Church for quite a while.  Quiiiitttteee a while.  I’ve always pushed it down on my review list because the pictures looked like it was too hip.  Too young.  Too loud.  Well you know what?  It was all of those things.  But go anyway, because the food is amazing.  But while you are perusing the menu, order a drink:

#1: The Cocktails

 

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The Ivey Cocktail was my choice of cocktail for the night.  It was sweet and light, with citrus vodka, orange liqueur, grenadine and cranberry juice.  Very fruity and refreshing!  The server was very knowledgeable about the bar offerings, as well.  I told her my likes (fruity, not too strong) and she recommended the perfect concoction.

#2 The Appetizers

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Behold the Shrimp Flatbread.  Handmade dough, baked and topped with juicy shrimp, boursin cheese, arugula and red onion.  Perfectly simple, and every element is perfectly executed.  The bread is chewy with just a little bit of a crispness on the outside and a little salty.  The shrimp are tender and sweet and cut into bite-sized pieces for ease of eating.  The boursin cheese is perfect on this, adding enough herbaceousness to bring it all together.  That and a salad would have been perfect.

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My friend had this pretty salad. The Bibb Wedge.   Bibb lettuce sprinkled with grape tomatoes, peperoncini and bacon and drizzled with a balsamic reduction and a tangy gorgonzola dressing.  It was a little tangy for her, but I didn’t taste it.  Looks gorgeous, though, right?

Reason #3 The entrée

Yeah, so four of my 5 reasons are food.  Shoot me.

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The Maryland Crab Cakes are a decadent treat ; chock full of lump crab meat with just enough filler to hold it together.  And they were baked, so not oily at all.  A dream!  The cake is resting on a squeeze of red pepper emulsion and a scallion aioli.  It was served with roasted broccoli, tomato marmalade (so sweet and tangy, perfect with the delicate crab) and a pancetta crisp, which was salty and provided a nice texture.

Reason #4  The Dessert

If ever there was a “signature” dessert at a place, this is the one.  It is a S’more Trifle.  Gooey brownie layered with chocolate ganache and topped with a toasty creamy marshmallow cream and a graham cracker crumble.  It alone is worth the visit.  Simply amazing.

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#5 Celebrity Spotting

In addition to many other awards, 5 Church has been voted as being a most likely to spot a celeb spot.  Celebrity diners include Cam Newton, Brooklyn Decker and heck, the chef was on Top Chef!

Photo cred: JustJared

5Church Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Charleston SC · Charlotte · Hickory · Restaurants

Best of Restaurants: Sides

Sometimes I think I get more excited about the side dishes of a meal than the actual protein.  Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Fourk in Hickory, NC

Roasted Sunchoke, Mixed Mushroom Saute, Fried Corn and Stone Ground Grits from Roosters in Charlotte, NC

Polenta from Aria Tuscan Grill

Macaroni and Cheese and Black-eyed Peas from Mert’s Heart and Soul in Charlotte

Bacon Macaroni and Cheese from the Oak Steakhouse in Charleston, SC

Charlotte · Davidson · Myrtle Beach · Savannah · Statesville

Best of Restaurant Desserts

Chocolate Souffle’ at Aix en Provence in Charlotte

Creme Brulee at Baron’s Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach

Roasted Apple Galette at Kindred in Davidson

Chocolate Layer Cake at Twisted Oak Bar and Grill in Statesville, NC

Rolled Ice Cream at Below Zero in Savannah, GA

Apple Pie Wontons at The Cowfish in Charlotte, NC

S’Mores Trifle at 5 Church in Charlotte, NC

 

Charleston SC · Charlotte · Isle of Palms · Savannah

Best of Restaurants: Appetizers

Appetizers are my very favorite part of the meal.  Not a big commitment, you can be adventurous and not break the bank.  Here is a list of my favorites:

Caramelized Gnocchi from Aria Tuscan Grill

Fried Green Tomatoes at Huey’s Southern Eats in Isle of Palms

Mert’s Soul Rolls at Mert’s Heart and Soul in Charlotte

Homemade Lime Tortilla Chips served with Pineapple Mango Salsa from Caterer extraordinaire Food Junkie

Spinach and Artichoke Dip from Food Junkie

Filipino-style Pork Eggrolls with Spicy Apricot Dipping Sauce from Food Junkie

Funghi Repieni at Caruso’s in Mooresville

Peirogies from Twisted Oak Bar and Grill in Statesville, NC

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Manchego Skillet at Tybee Island Social Club in Tybee Island, GA

Warm Pimento Cheese & Jumbo Lump Crab Cake  from Tupelo Honey in Charlotte, NC

&

Oysters Rockefeller at the Oak Steakhouse in Charleston, SC

Shrimp Flatbread from 5 Church in Charlotte, NC